Penalties for drug possession in Pennsylvania are some of the toughest in the country. Despite more and more states decriminalizing certain drug offenses, a conviction for possession or intent to distribute in cities across our state offer severe consequences. While these charges vary on the type of drug and the circumstances of the possession, it’s important to consult an experienced drug charge defense lawyer to help you understand what’s at risk based on what types of drug charges are the most severe in Pennsylvania.
Common Drug Charges in Pennsylvania
While there are a number of different drug offenses within PA, the most common involve heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. The primary concern for law enforcement is stopping the trafficking of these substances, but charges for possession even without intent aren’t taken lightly either.
Since these drugs are all very different in their purpose and effects, they are penalized in different ways. Pennsylvania and federal law divide controlled substances into “schedules,” based on their potential for abuse and therapeutic value. Below are a few examples:
- Schedule 1:
Drugs that have a very high potential for addiction and abuse with no medical purposes. (Over 100 drugs are on the official list)
- Schedule 2:
Drugs that may create “severe psychological or physical dependence,” but unlike Schedule 1, contain substances prescribed for medical use.
- Schedule 3:
Drugs that may result in physical dependence or psychological dependence, but in general, have less potential for abuse than Schedule 1 & 2 and are often prescribed medically.
Codeine & Hydrocodone products mixed with aspirin or Tylenol
- Schedule 4:
Drugs that offer very limited possibility of becoming physically or psychologically dependent and are often prescribed medically.
-Clonzaepam (Klonpin, Valpax, etc.)
- Schedule 5:
Drugs that have very little risk of addiction and are prescribed medications. These drugs may sometimes be higher scheduled drugs in lower amounts.
-Cough medicines (with codeine)
-Zolpidem (Ambien, Stillnox, Zolpimist)
Pennsylvania Drug Charges & Penalties
Pennsylvania drug penalties are fairly straightforward: there are two basic misdemeanors – carrying up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000 – and three felonies – Felony Possession with Intent (Drug Trafficking), Felony Possession with Intent To Deliver (PWID), and Unlawful Manufacturing. Depending on the Schedule in which the drug falls under, these charges can result in up to 15 years imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000 per count.
Marijuana is still illegal in PA, so intentionally or knowingly having it within your possession can result in serious charges. These penalties will depend on the amount you are caught with at the time of your arrest, as well as whether or not you have been convicted in the past. For example, 30 grams or more could result in a maximum of one year sentence and $5,000 in fees, while the same amount as a third offense ups the potential jail time to 3 years.
Weight is used to determine the severity of a drug charge involving cocaine. For example, less than 2 grams could result in one-year jail sentence and $5,000 in fines, while 2 to 10 grams of cocaine could receive a minimum 2-year sentence. You’ll also lose your driver’s license for 6 months to 2 years, depending on how many offenses are on your record.
It’s important to note that federal offenses for possession and trafficking may be much more severe depending on the circumstances of your arrest.
Heroin is considered the most dangerous of the Schedule 1 drugs listed above, and so is charged as such. In Pennsylvania, possession of 1 to 5 grams is a mandatory minimum 2-year sentence, largely due to the fact that there is no accepted medical use for heroin in PA.
There may also be programs you could be required to attend which provide rehabilitation to first-time offenders in an attempt to prevent a future offense.
IF you or someone you know if facing a serious drug offense, our dedicated team of criminal defense attorneys are here to help. With experience in all types of drug charges over the last 25 years in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, we’ll fight aggressively to minimize your penalties and protect your freedoms. Contact us today for a free consultation.Read More
If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol for the first time, it was probably one of the most traumatic experiences of your life. And now, you most likely have a lot of questions. The first one most likely being, “should I get a lawyer?” Even if you boast a perfectly clean driving record going into your arrest, the answer is still YES. Drunk driving crimes are taken very seriously in Pennsylvania, so if you’re a first-time offender, here are some of the main reasons why you need to get a lawyer today.
To Get Answers to Your Questions
Even if you’ve had friends or family who has been convicted of a DUI in the past, every case is different. You’ll have questions that need answers based on your specific circumstances. Without prior experience in the court system, it’s normal to be scared, and an experienced attorney can help ease your concerns by providing you information and guiding you through the process.
As a first-time DUI conviction, you may have more options available to you than in a repeat case, such as a disposition program to avoid a criminal record. It’s important to understand the various scenarios and details of these options, but you’ll be expected to decide quickly. Trying to make these decisions on your own could cost you in the long run.
To Protect Your Rights
By hiring a lawyer right away, they can examine the specific details of your case to determine any possible defenses on your behalf. You have rights under the state and federal law, ensuring that law enforcement handled the initial stop and arrest properly. Your lawyer will be able to catch any of these violations to give you the best possible outcome for your case.
Common defenses involve the following:
- The credibility of the officer who arrested you
- Whether or not the initial traffic stop was constitutional – did they have reasonable suspicion to stop you? Were you read your rights?
- Ensuring the police obtained consent for DUI testing
- The accuracy of the testing equipment used due to lack of maintenance or calibration
- Whether or not the proper testing procedure was followed – observing you for 20 min before testing you, testing within 2 hours of driving the car, etc.
A number of these circumstances could mean for dismissal of the case, so make sure you are working with an attorney who is experienced in DUI crimes.
To Minimize the Consequences You’ll Face
Under state law, the severity of penalties depends on a multitude of factors, including whether it’s a first-time or repeat offense, your blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) at the time of the arrest, and if any injuries or fatalities were a result of the defendant’s condition. While being a first time-offender does help your case, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. It does, however, generally give you more options under the law in terms of your penalties. This may involve Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program which may allow for expungement of the crime from your record upon completion.
Other potential penalties and consequences you may face with a DUI charge include:
Anything over the legal limit could result in fines of $300-$5,000
- Jail Time
A BAC of over 0.10 for a first-time offender allows for up to 6 months in jail
- Suspension of Driver’s License
If BAC is over 0.10 or you refused a test, your license could be suspended for a year; that includes losing a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or work.
- Insurance Rate Increases or Unattainability
A DUI may result in higher limits of insurance and more expensive coverage
- Employment Implications
Many employers have policies against employing or hiring anyone with a DUI conviction:
- Increased Penalties in the Future
Due to Pennsylvania’s 3-tiered sentencing guidelines, any second offense you face will be much more severe than the first
- Drug & Alcohol Treatment
You may be forced to undergo drug and alcohol education or treatment, as well as community service if a minor was in the vehicle
- More Severe Penalties
If there was collateral damage as a result of your DUI, including injuries or fatalities, you’ll be faced with much more serious penalties, as well as possible lawsuits from the victims
If you’ve recently been arrested for a DUI, don’t wait any longer to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Whether you’re a first-time or repeat offender, our lawyers will fight to protect your rights and minimize your consequences. Contact us for a free consultation today.Read More
Opioid abuse has become a growing epidemic across the United States, which is why prosecutors are really cracking down on users and prescribers. In just one year (2016-2017), Opioid overdoses increased by 30% across 45 states. And in Philadelphia, Opioids now make up 60% of the drugs found by law enforcement, and twice as many people die from these overdoses than murder (over 700). If you’ve been arrested due to Opioid use or distribution, it’s important to understand the consequences you could face and your options to help you move on with your life. Here’s what happens after an Opioid arrest:
Penalties for Opioid Possession
In Pennsylvania, there is no standard penalty for drug possession since it is dependent on a number of factors involved in every case. These typically include the type of drug, intended use, quantity and potency, and other circumstances regarding the arrest itself. But when it comes to being arrested for Opioid possession, you can expect the following repercussions:
- Fines: These can be as much as $250,000, or even higher in situations where the defendant has earned significant amounts of money through drug trafficking. Courts have the power to implement fines and penalties that absorb all the drug-related income generated.
- Jail or Imprisonment: This could range anywhere from a few days or weeks to as long as 15 years.
- Probation: A judge may place a defendant on probation if they are a first-time offender or there was a relatively small quantity of Opioids found. But this doesn’t mean you get off easy, as standard probation terms can significantly impact a defendant’s daily activities and routine, including restricting interaction with any friends or acquaintances who are known for drug possession in the past.
Defense Against Opioid Charges
When these consequences are on the line, the best way to protect yourself is to contact an experienced criminal lawyer about your case. An arrest does not mean you are automatically charged with a crime so make sure you stay calm but take action right away. By speaking to a lawyer as soon as possible, they can help investigate any potential defenses that can be used to help your case. For example, if the drugs being seized illegally because the police didn’t follow the steps to proper search, or if you can prove the drugs belonged to someone else. Other defenses may include:
- You were unaware of your possession of the drug – maybe you were driving someone else’s car where the drugs were found or were given the substance enclosed within something else without realizing what it was.
- You had very limited quantities in your possession – if you were found in possession of a very small amount or potency of Opioids, penalties may be reduced on the basis that you had no intent to distribute
- You have a prescription – you could avoid being charged if you have proof of prescription for the drug
What You Should Do After An Opioid Arrest
As always, the worst thing you can do is fight or resist the police during an arrest, but you don’t have to provide them with anything other than your basic information until you contact a lawyer. The first thing you should do is contact your lawyer as soon as you have the opportunity. If you don’t already have one, reach out to a trusted friend or family member who can contact one for you.
Secondly, if you are assigned bail until trial, you’ll most likely have to pay before you can leave. Speak to your lawyer about your options if you’re having trouble financially.
You’ll want to provide your lawyer with all the details of your arrest, describing how the police found the drug, under what circumstances the arrest took place, anyone else that was with you, etc. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential, so it’s crucial to be honest with them as any detail could help you, or reversely, hurt you if not prepared.
Your lawyer will then advise you on the next steps. Following these instructions is extremely important as it can greatly impact your case. They’ll most likely start by telling you what to do and what to avoid, including sharing details of your arrest with other people or on social media.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for Opioid possession, don’t wait another minute to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight for the best possible outcome. Call us today to discuss your case during a free consultation.Read More
Drunk driving is Pennsylvania’s second leading cause of accidents and fatalities, behind only speeding, with Philadelphia making up a large percentage of these tragedies. For this reason, even a first-degree offense can lead to serious legal repercussions, including substantial fines, mandatory drug, and alcohol counseling, even jail time. While you may be aware of these consequences, you may not realize the long-term collateral damage it also causes. So before you call just any lawyer to defend your DUI case, here are the collateral consequences you could be risking.
Increased Auto Insurance Premiums
In addition to the potential fines, you’ll be responsible for, a DUI conviction can make your auto insurance a real issue. First and foremost, your rates will increase significantly. And switching insurance companies won’t help; your criminal record makes you a high risk no matter where you go which will make companies reluctant to cover you. You could wind up paying premiums of up to hundreds or thousands of dollars more than drivers without a record.
One of the risks you take with drunk driving is losing your license. In some cases, a defendant can petition the court for a restricted license that allows you to still (and only) get to and from work, but in many cases, you won’t be so lucky. Without public transportation, that makes daily commutes a major inconvenience on you and your loved ones. Consider driving your kids to school or sporting events, grocery shopping, going to the bank or post office, or doctors visits when someone gets sick or hurt. Not to mention if traveling is part of your job, you’re looking at far bigger problems.
Lost Employment Opportunities
As an at-will employment state, employers-employees in PA can be terminated by either party for any reason (within discrimination laws). So even if the state simply accuses you of a DUI, your employer can fire you without recourse. What’s worse is they don’t have to rehire you if the charges are dropped or you’re acquitted. A clean driving record is necessary for a multitude of jobs which require good character (medicine, finance, social services, etc.), so your future employment opportunities will be significantly affected as well.
The student code of conduct at many schools and universities prohibit any illegal activity, including drunk driving. As a result, students can face serious repercussions from their academic institution after a conviction. This includes:
- Loss of a scholarship or financial aid package
And if education is in your future plans, you should know that schools may use a criminal record as a factor when deciding on applicants, which could result in the derailment of your academic plans before they even start.
If you’re facing a DUI charge, it’s crucial to understand that a conviction is not necessarily inevitable. With an experienced attorney, you’ll have the very best chance at providing a defense that applies to your case and could help you avoid a criminal record. Contact our lawyers to discuss your case in a free consultation.Read More
Most people facing criminal charges in Philadelphia for the first time have no idea what to do… and what not to do. A first offense can be scary, which is why having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney guiding you through the process is so important. But there are a few general guidelines to follow to give you and your lawyers the best chance to get you the outcome you deserve. Here are 6 do’s and don’ts for your criminal case from our team.
- Do Be Honest with Your Lawyer
First things first, hire an experienced lawyer to handle your case. Defending yourself is an extremely risky idea while hiring just any lawyer can be just as unpredictable. You want an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the practice and has the time to represent you properly. While your lawyer does their best to represent you, the best thing you can do to help yourself is being honest with them. Some people are hesitant to be completely truthful and leave parts of the story out because they’re embarrassed or afraid. Conversations between you and your attorney are strictly confidential, so make sure your information is honest and all-inclusive. In order to protect your constitutional and statutory rights to the best of our ability, we need the truth and nothing but the truth.
- Don’t Speak to Law Officials without Your Lawyer Present
When you’re arrested, a law enforcement officer should read you your Miranda Rights, starting with the most well-known you have the right to remain silent. And you should. There’s nothing you can say to talk your way out of the arrest or help your situation. You will need to provide your basic information, but other than that, what you should say: “I would like to speak with my lawyer first.” You also shouldn’t consent to any searches. If a police officer asks, you have the right to say no, giving you the opportunity to contact a criminal defense attorney first.
- Do Be Polite & Respectful
From the moment you get pulled over or questioned to your court day, this practice is a good idea. Again, you won’t be able to fight or negotiate your way out of the situation, so remain calm and be polite. Once in court, it’s important you understand that judges and jurors have immense power, so treating them with the utmost respect will only help you in the end. Dress in your “Sunday Best,” unless otherwise told by your lawyer, always stand when you speak to the judge and address them as “Sir,” “ma’am” or “Your Honor.” Your goal is to best portray yourself as a law abiding citizen so it’s important to act as such.
- Don’t Share or Talk about Your Case with Others
It’s ok to at least talk to family and close friends, right? Wrong. The more people you talk to, the more people the police have to interview and creates a new opportunity to find differences between your word and evidence of the case. By keeping quiet, you’ll not only help yourself but spare your loved ones as well. And posting information related to your case on social media is a big no, no. Anything you share can be held against you in court, and you never know who is watching or keeping track of your accounts.
- Do Comply with Pre-Trial Service Requirements
If at any point before your trial, you are released from custody, it’s imperative you follow the conditions of your release. Whether this includes mandatory check-ins or attending court-mandated programs, make sure you show up on time, every time. By remaining on your best behavior and avoiding any additional violations related to your sentencing, you can not only keep yourself out of further trouble but build a good character defense for yourself in court.
- Don’t Approach Victims or Witnesses in Your Case
Even if this doesn’t violate a restraining order or condition of your case, you could still be jeopardizing the results of your case. These victims or witnesses are most likely cooperating with authorities, so any interactions you have with them could be viewed as obstruction of justice or witness tampering. Keep your distance to give your attorney the best chance to use these individuals to help your case, instead of hurt it.
If you’ve been charged or arrested for a crime, like a DUI, Drug Possession, or Sexual Assault, our lawyers are here to help. Let our experience guide you through the do’s and don’ts of the process and fight for the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us to schedule a meeting today.Read More
Probable cause is one of the most important concepts in deciding when it’s appropriate for the police to arrest, search, or stop an individual for questioning. This Fourth Amendment law rooted in the Bill of Rights has continued to evolve through state and federal decisions over the years, so if you or someone you know if being charged with a crime, it’s important to understand what it means today. So what exactly is probable cause and who does it protect?
Probable Cause in Criminal Law
Probable cause refers to the requirement that police must have an adequate reason, based on supporting facts and circumstances, to make an arrest, search for evidence, or stop someone for questioning. The concept is based on the right of a person to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. It also further specifies that a search warrant cannot be issued unless there is a probable cause for doing so.
The Supreme Court has defined “seizure” as both the seizure of evidence and of a person during an arrest. The officer must be able to provide sufficient facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a particular crime has been committed by the suspected individual in order for a legal search, seizure or arrest to occur.
Probable Cause to Search
Probable cause to search is based on the facts and circumstances provided leading a reasonable person to believe that the crime was committed at the location to be searched or the evidence exists within this location. In this case, a search warrant must specify the place to be searched, however, there are also cases in which a search warrant isn’t required. Some of which include:
● With the consent from the person in charge or ownership of the premises
● When conducting certain searches connected to a lawful arrest
● When the public safety or loss of the evidence is threatened
● If contraband is “in plain sight” when the officer has the right to be present
Probable Cause to Seize Property
A police officer has probable cause to seize a particular property when the facts and circumstances support the reasonable belief that the item is contraband, is stolen, or is considered evidence to a crime.
With a search warrant, the police may only search for items covered within the warrant. But if they discover any other evidence or contraband during their search, it may be seized as well. Conversely, If there is no warrant in play, and the search proves to be illegal, the evidence cannot be used against the defendant under the “exclusionary rule.” The judge will make the final decision on this based on arguments from both sides of the case.
Probable Cause to Arrest
If the facts and circumstances within the officer’s knowledge are enough for a reasonable person to believe the suspect has committed a crime, is committing a crime, or will commit a crime, then there is probable cause to arrest that individual.
However, short of arrests, there are “detentions,” which do not require probable cause. These temporary restraints, including car stops, pedestrian stops, and occupants while police obtain a search warrant, only require “reasonable suspicion.” While this term is often used interchangeably with probable cause, they are in fact very different.
What is Reasonable Suspicion?
Reasonable suspicion is the idea that a police officer must believe a crime has occurred or may occur using the facts and circumstances of the specific situation based on their professional skills and training. An example of this may include pulling over a car that swerves multiple lanes to see if the driver is under the influence.
If you or a family member were arrested or convicted of a crime, you have rights under The Fourth Amendment. If you are searching legal advice based on your detainment and whether or not your right to the probable cause was violated, contact our lawyers to discuss your case and get the protection you deserve.Read More
In many cases of a simple assault misdemeanor, a misunderstanding is to blame for the defendant’s conviction and now they have to live with a criminal record. If you’re wondering if it’s possible to have your criminal record expunged of your simple assault charge, the answer is, fortunately, yes. But like with any expungement, it depends on the specific factors of your case. The best first step is to consult an experienced assault lawyer in Philadelphia who knows what it takes to get your criminal charge expunged. Let us start by giving you a short overview on how to get a simple assault misdemeanor expunged from your record.
How Do I Qualify for Expungement?
In Pennsylvania, there are a few ways in which a person may qualify to have their criminal record expunged. Due to state law requirements, these possibilities aren’t necessarily beneficial to individuals who are seeking an expungement because of how it has affected their career or other areas of their life. For example, the first way to qualify for expungement is if you are at least 70 years old and have been free of any prosecutions or arrests for 10 years. However, this 10-year period only begins once the original probation or prison sentence has ended, which could add years to the process. Depending on your current stage of life and motivations for an expungement, such as applying for a new home or job, this exception may not benefit you.
Another way to have your record expunged is if you have not been arrested in the last five years. This option, however, only applies to summary offenses, or most non-violent crimes, which rules out simple assault crimes. Similarly, you can also have a crime expunged after the successful completion of an ARD program or Section 17 probation, which are both typically implemented for non-violent misdemeanors.
Finally, an expungement may be granted if the convicted has been deceased for three years. While this procedure is clearly not beneficial to the deceased, it could provide relief to the family of the decedent.
Pennsylvania’s New Expungement Law
The good news is that Pennsylvania recently passed a new expungement law in 2018 in order to expand the types of misdemeanors that qualify for expungement. While the Senate Bill 391 was primarily instated to expunge second and third-degree misdemeanors, there is an exception for a violent offense of the third degree.
If in the case of a third-degree misdemeanor, the defendant was involved in a mutual struggle or a fight with another willing participant, then the assault can be removed from his or her record. But the requirements for having a simple assault expunged are stricter than Pennsylvania’s standard expungement rules. For example, only after avoiding arrest or conviction for 10 years can you request that your record be sealed; which is different from expungement in that it is still accessible by law enforcement officials. The general public or an employer, however, will have a lot of difficulties viewing your criminal history, which offers the best case scenario in preventing the crime from affecting your everyday life.
In the case of second-degree misdemeanor simple assault, there are no exceptions to having your criminal record expunged unless you receive a pardon from Pennsylvania’s governor. This also applies to all sex-related assault offenses.
In order to better understand the options for an expungement and how to proceed with your simple assault charge, contact our experienced assault attorneys for a consultation. With years of experience helping individuals get their criminal records expunged, our team can help you move on with your life.Read More
Swirling the recent news circuit is accusations from prosecutors that a North Philadelphia tow truck operator, Hooked Inc., and its owners have been using the vulnerability of drivers in serious car accidents as an opportunity to charge outrageous fees.
While District Attorney, Larry Krasner, claims the towing company is better named “Hooked on Greed” after an 18-month investigation, owners of Hooked Inc., Joseph Moreno, 40, and Dwight Williams, 29, deny the accusations, asserting that “nobody was taken advantage of.”
In an attempt to protect their business and defend their reputations throughout the community, the owners needed an aggressive criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia who would fight for their innocence. They contacted William Brennan, who is now defending Dwight Williams against charges of corrupt organization, deceptive or fraudulent business practices, insurance fraud, theft by deception, and conspiracy.
William Brennan, vowed to fight “each and every” allegation against Hooked Inc., saying the company has provided service “at a fair and reasonable cost.”
Even further in support of the company’s business practices, company lawyer, Aato Sanita states that the towing was always done with consent. “Hooked Inc. was acting in a legal fashion and a contractual fashion and in a matter that is consistent with standards in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Sanita commented.
While one incident in Roxborough states that an operator for the towing company allegedly approached a woman in an ambulance being treated after a car crash, and told her and her husband that they had to sign a slip to remove their damaged vehicle. After being assured that insurance would take care of the bill, the husband agreed to sign, as to which Hooked Inc. then allegedly billed All-State Insurance $1,221.25 for one-day storage.
On the contrary, many customers have raved on Yelp about their experiences with Hooked Inc., crediting them with being “very nice and polite,” providing a “wonderful experience,” and offering “the best service.” One of the company’s drivers also came to their defense, saying “everything we do here is completely legit.”
For the best chance at disproving the serious allegations they face, Hooked Inc. is trusting a defense attorney who is known for aggressively fighting for the rights of his clients and protecting their reputations until proven guilty. Brennan will join Williams and Moreno at their scheduled status hearing on April 29th in their defense.
To read more about the charges against Hooked Inc. and other recent cases in which Bill Brennan is fighting for the rights of his clients, check out our “In the News” section. Or if you’re facing charges of your own, contact us to speak to one of our attorneys today.Read More
When you’re arrested after committing a criminal offense, your best case scenario is having your charges dropped or dismissed. It’s the closest you can get to making the whole situation “go away.” In order to move on with your life, you’ll want an experienced criminal defense attorney helping you understand the possibility of dropped or dismissed charges in your specific case. So why would criminal charges be dropped or dismissed in Philadelphia?
Charges Dropped vs. Dismissed
First, let’s clarify the differences between the two. When charges are dropped, it can only be done by a prosecutor or arresting officer. This decision could be based on a number of circumstances such as the victim is no longer willing to cooperate, there is insufficient evidence, or new evidence is found contradicting the original arrest. In most cases where a charge is dismissed, there is an insufficient evidence to proceed with the trial. Unlike dropped charges, it can only be done after the case has already been filed.
Reasons Why Criminal Charges are Dropped:
When a prosecutor or arresting officer decides to drop criminal charges, it may be for one of the following reasons:
Constitutional Rights were Violated
This typically involves a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits law enforcement from conducting a search without paper justification. If a search occurs without probable cause or a warrant, the evidence is considered to be illegally seized and cannot be used in the case. If this evidence happens to be a essential to the case, it could be a reason to drop the charges.
Procedure Violations were Committed
From the time of the arrest to the prosecution, there are strict procedures that must be followed by law enforcement and prosecutors. For example, under the Sixth Amendment, if a suspect asks for an attorney but continues to be interrogated by the prosecution, then a procedural violation has occurred which could be grounds for dropping the charges.
Evidence is Destroyed or Lost
In some cases, evidence is destroyed or lost before the case goes to trial. It is common in these situations that important documents or files have been misplaced, which make it difficult for the prosecutors to prove their case.
There are Insufficient Resources
Criminal cases are an extremely common occurrence in big cities. A lot of prosecutors in Philadelphia will deal with multiple cases every single day. For this reason, many of them will choose to drop specific charges for trivial or summary offenses, such as traffic violations or disorderly conduct. But keep in mind, that also means if you’re facing charges for a much more serious offense, your case will be a prosecutor’s priority.
Victim is Uncooperative
Contrary to popular belief, a victim doesn’t actually have the authority to drop charges. But while the decision is one the prosecutor must make, it could also be based on the victim’s unwillingness to cooperate. If this is the case, it becomes more difficult for the prosecution to prove their case effectively, so they may consider dropping the charges as a result.
If you or someone you know has been arrested in Philadelphia, you’ll want an experienced defense attorney who will review the details of your case and know how to leverage this information to have your criminal charges dropped. Contact our lawyers to discuss your case today.Read More
If you’ve been convicted of a federal crime, the scariest thing is awaiting the sentence you’ll have to serve. The differences between state and federal crimes depend on a variety of factors like what offenses were involved and where the prosecution occurs, all of which will determine the length of the resulting sentence. In most cases, federal offenses will receive much harsher penalties than PA state crimes, from decades of jail time to tens of thousands of dollars in fines. So if you or someone you know needs to know if and how you can reduce your federal sentence, our team of experienced defense lawyers are here to help.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines
When you’re being sentenced in court, the judge will determine the necessary sentencing range for your crime based on the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Assuming there is no mandatory minimum, which in most cases means the judge is required sentence you to that term of imprisonment, a criminal defense lawyer can argue a number of provisions (over 100 exist, but not all will apply to your specific case) on your behalf to reduce your federal sentence. Most of these arguments will need to be made during the sentencing, so don’t wait until it’s too late to have an experienced attorney fighting for you.
How to Get a Federal Sentence Reduced?
Offenders who can offer aid to the federal government in the prosecution of criminals may be presented the opportunity to reduce their sentence; this is known as Rule 35 Reduction. There are two common ways to reduce a federal sentence based on this rule: a method known as “substantial assistance motion,” which is filed before the offender is sentenced and presented during the sentencing trial and a method from the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure, which requires re-sentencing after the initial sentence is made.
Substantial assistance motion makes the request that the court “departs downward,” or consider granting a shorter sentence, based on a number of determining factors, including the value of the defendant’s assistance to the government based on government’s assessment, the truth and dependability of the information received from the defendant, and whether the defendant’s information is immediately helpful. If the court believes the defendant has provided a sufficient amount of help, a motion can then be filed to reduce their sentence. Rule 35 is one case in which a judge has the authority to disregard a mandatory minimum for the sentence.
If substantial assistance doesn’t apply to your case, there are other ways to reduce a federal sentence, some of which include:
- Criminal History: If you have older prior convictions or prior convictions that are not as serious as your criminal history suggests, allowing you to have a sentence based on a lower criminal history level than you actually fall.
- Fast Track: Based on the notion that if you plead guilty in an expedient manner, you’re alleviating the government of having to litigate the case, saving them time and resources.
- Coercion or Duress: Committing a crime under serious coercion or duress could qualify as a legitimate defense during trial, but you must be able to prove that you had reasonable fear of immediate or serious harm or death if the offense was not committed.
- General Mitigation: If any mitigating circumstances were not properly taken into consideration that could potentially offer reason that the crime was not as serious as the guideline range reflects or is appropriate to the history of the defendant.
There are also several programs that can help reduce a federal sentence after the defendant has is sentenced. If you’ve been convicted of a federal crime, it’s important to have an experienced defense attorney who knows all the possible provisions and will fight for you to provide the best chance at reducing your sentence. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.Read More